Friday, 20 November 2009


Why have I had a cold since September?
Why is gingerbread dough tastier than the finished gingerbread men?
What is little man trying to tell me when he babbles away so earnestly?
Why is 'bang' his favourite word?
Why are my chickens still not laying any eggs after they finished moulting weeks ago?
Why am I physically incapable of being tidy?
Why do holes appear when I try to knit in the round in stripes?
Why can't toddlers sit in the car without pulling their socks off?
Why can my son remember that nasturtium flowers are edible but he can't remember that running like a loon with your eyes shut means you fall over and bang your head for the twentieth time in one day?
Why are big red buttons so irresistible?
Why did little man think that because grandma had a pretty necklace on, mummy might like a Pudsey bear sticker on her neck?
Why has he stopped eating his tea, whatever it is?
Why does my rear offside tyre keep deflating?
Why is it that every time I try to do something from my to-do list I end up adding more to it?
How can there be so many different shades of white paint?
Why are my new boots falling apart six days after I bought them?
Should I have a glass of cider and another gingerbread man?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The world's your lobster

So, les parents have had a friend round for dinner. Cue lots of tales of drinking around the campfire circa 1969. Let me explain: My dad emigrated to Australia when he was 19. He came back when his father died suddenly in an accident at an ICI plant not long after. While he was back here he met my mum; they got married and went off to Adelaide. From the tales it would seem they drank lots and mucked around lots. They eventually had my brother and decided to come back to Britain where his grandmas, grandad, aunties and uncles were. My brother was obviously sick all the way home on the boat, which serves them right for bringing him back to a damp, pestilence-ridden country.

They are off back to Oz next year for a three-month camping-in-the-desert, driving-along-dirt-roads kind of trip with their Aussie friends who know how to do this sort of thing. The kind of friends they used to get pissed with and row out into harbours with in stolen boats in the wee small hours and generally get up to mischief with.

Me? I get my hands on my new house in Runcorn in six days. I'm sure there's some Chinese saying about how it's not how far you travel... and how those who stay at home can end up as far away as those who get on a long-haul flight... but google is not coming up trumps so I'll leave you with this from the Tao Te Ching: “In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.” And: "Without taking a step outdoors, you know the whole world."

When I have settled into my new house I will dig out my own copy of the tao te ching and treat you to some more quotations. Bet you can't wait.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Preheat your ovens now...

I was going to give you a picture. But I didn't get round to it when they were fresh yesterday and now there are hardly any left. I'm referring to the gooey chocolate and ginger brownie thingies I made from Earthenwitch's recipe. Anyway, believe me, they were gorgeous. Worth nearly blowing up my parents' microwave in a mysterious butter and chocolate-melting incident. I don't have one of those hand-helder blender things meant for soup so I finely grated the ginger instead. And I can confirm it took 40 minutes in a standard gas oven on mark 5.

I also made a lovely sticky tea bread the other day from my new Frugal Food book by Delia Smith. Here's how:

Stick this lot in a pan and bring it to the boil: 150ml water, 150g caster sugar, 110g sultanas, 110g butter and 1 tsp bicarb of soda. Boil for 10 mins but don't leave it or it'll boil over. Take it off the heat and let it cool for as long as your patience lasts. Add 1 large, beaten, egg, 175g sifted plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder sifted in with the flour. Mix. Bung it in a greased and floured 1lb (I know, 450g, I'm mixing my measurements up but loaf tins are designed in lbs!) loaf tin and stick it in a gas mark 4 oven for an hour and a half. When it's cool enough, cut a generous slice and enjoy. It's very portable too for packed lunches/eating at your desk.

I realise I'm not blogging much at the moment. Most of the time I'm just feeling sorry for myself and don't have much to say that wouldn't be a bit gloomy.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Five things...

Five things I've bought in the past few days:
1. Four different-coloured toy cars from the Children's Society shop.
2. A second-hand copy of Delia Smith's Frugal Food.
3. A pair of cord trousers and two sun hats for little man in the Ethel Austin clearance.
4. A rum truffle from the Devonshire Bakery (nothing to do with Devonshire!).
5. Booze. Well I will have bought this soon as I'm off to the pub. There have to be some perks to living with the parents, ie babysitting.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Yet another sleep post

The boy has stopped sleeping through. Since we went on holiday at the end of September I can count the number of times he has stayed in his own bed all night on one hand. When he's with me anyway, because daddy keeps telling me he sleeps fine when he's there. So perhaps that discounts the usual culprits, although he is teething (constantly) and he does have a very snotty nose (constantly).

Being the sensitive soul (read: cries lots) that he is, it's probably something to do with moving house and mummy being stressed. And due to crazy vendor it's going to be at least another three weeks before that can start to change. So I'm just about ready to join little man in a tantrum. Latest ones have been about: mummy refusing to get out from under the duvet to draw in the condensation on the window at 6.30am, mummy offering him an oatcake instead of a breadstick, mummy trying to write this instead of watching him put Postman Pat in his van. And take him out again. And put him in again....

Anyway, it's not all doom and gloom: it was highly amusing when my Bravissimo catalogue arrived and little man pressed the belly buttons of all the models, saying 'beep beep'.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Windy day at the seaside

New Brighton. Wirral. Not to be confused with Brighton, Sussex. Windy day. Turbines turning. Waves splashing over the prom wall. Interesting view of Liverpool's scrapyards. Container ships being guided into dock by tugs. Pigeons to be chased. Stones to be examined. New knitted mittens to be waved. All polished off with a fish and chip lunch, at which little man suddenly found his appetite, which meant we were all waiting for him to finish for a change.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

ça va?

I can now count a tower of ten blocks in French. I can sing Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes... in French. Apparently my pronunciation of body parts is very good (no sniggering at the back). Particularly for someone who gave up learning French at the age of thirteen. I can sing Frere Jacques, without fudging the bit about sunny lemon tinas. It's sonnez les matines don't you know.

As my dad kindly pointed out, little man can't yet do any of these things in English. But hey, he seemed to be having fun. Some people might think, 'What's the point in trying to teach a 20-month-old French?', others might think it's too pushy, middle-class parent.

Well, I don't sit around in the evening thinking about exactly what I want little man to learn, what would turn him into a child genius who will be passing A levels at the age of three and then find such a class, no matter how far I have to travel or how much I have to pay. And I realise he's not going to suddenly start saying 'Bonjour maman, je voudrais une pomme de terre, s'il vous plait.' (Look, I told you I gave it up aged thirteen!)

But, there's a group being run fifteen minutes' walk from my new house and we do like to go out and about and do fun things and see other people sometimes. And sing songs and do actions and draw and play. And it's free. It doesn't really matter exactly what the group is all about. It's fun and it won't do little man any harm if he does learn to say bonjour. And it's quite nice for mummy to learn something too.

All together now: Tete, epaules, genoux, pieds (genoux, pieds)...

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


It's done! Contracts exchanged. Completion November 24. One month to get central heating installed, paint walls and ceilings (especially the blue ceiling in the bathroom), change some floorings and arrange my furniture to make it cosy for the festive season. Anyone know where I can get environmentally friendly, non-toxic carpet for the bedrooms at an affordable price?

I took little man for a walk down that way this morning to show him our new house. He fell asleep in the Storch before we got there. I thought the wind blowing up the Manchester Ship Canal was going to wake him up as we crossed the swing bridge to go and have a look at the Mersey, but he was well away. Until we wandered back up to the Bridgewater Canal and an angler said, 'You've got something growing out of your back.'

'It's a monster,' I replied, at which point he woke up, stuck his arm out and shouted 'bo' [boat]. Indeed there were lots of narrow boats moored up.

Much fun was also had at what will be my new children's centre. After being given a tour of the centre and chatting about what's on we booked the soft play area and little man had a great time climbing over everything, balancing on a big ball on his tummy then falling off and generally running about like a loon.

Tomorrow it's off to school. Ha ha. Here's me considering home education and I'm taking him to La Petite Ecole in the morning. I don't even speak French myself. If it's fun we'll give it a go.

Monday, 2 November 2009

An apology

All my inspiration and creativity is being sapped by the pointless anxiety caused by house purchasing. I was expecting to exchange contracts on my new house last Wednesday. It's now Monday evening and it still hasn't happened. And always at the back of my mind is the knowledge that the vendor doesn't really want to move. She is having to move, for some reason unknown to me, but doesn't actually want to leave this house. So I really hope she isn't changing her mind.

I have already visualised little man and I living in this house, throwing open the patio doors to the yard, getting proper storage sorted out for my filing and wool and pile-of-old-clothes-I'm-saving-for-the-fabric stash, strolling round the nature reserve five minutes' walk away on the banks of the Mersey, popping to the little play area just down the road, growing herbs on the windowledge and flowers on top of the back wall. I am eager to get settled, to establish new routines, to find time to see people from back oop north (ie Lancashire) as well as people where I am now.

And for a while now I have been thinking to myself that when I get settled down again I will: drink less, eat better, lose weight, get outdoors more, get a bike seat for little man, find a tai chi class, rewrite my profile and start logging on again...

So although I know I shouldn't worry, because it's out of my hands and it's not a matter of life or death, I still am worried. My chi is not flowing, my aura is not glowing. And I'd like to apologise for that terrible rhyme.